The right word at the right time is like precious gold set in silver. – Proverbs 25:11
Last weekend I had the great privilege of working the finish line at Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN. My job was to put medals around the necks of those who finished either the half or full marathon. Not only is that task a ton of fun, it’s a study of humanity.
Some people cross the finish line absolutely spent. Their eyes are glassy, they stumble as if they’ve had a few too many drinks and struggle to get words out of their mouths.
Others are elated, happy it’s over and proud of their accomplishment. They seem caught up in the energy of the crowd. Big smiles and hi-Fives.
Still others seem angry. Perhaps they didn’t finish in the time they had hoped. They scowl with knitted brows and grab the medal out of my hand before I can put it around their neck.
And then there are my favorites. I call them The Weepers. As they walk up to receive their medal they burst into tears. Some have been running in memory of a loved one. For others it’s the fulfillment of a life-long dream. One woman told me that just nine months ago she had been paralyzed from an accident. Sweaty, stinky, snotty and sometimes bloody The Weepers often spontaneously threw their arms around me and cried on my shoulder. I absolutely loved it!
And it left me wondering. How often do I feel a swell of emotion within – love, excitement, gratitude – but choose to push it back down? Refusing to give it voice. Embarrassed, unsure, afraid to appear vulnerable. The answer is “too often”.
There is certainly a time and place to hold back what we feel, to refuse to express it. Some things really are better left unsaid. But not love. Not gratitude. Not joy. Not worship. The world needs more of these. I can’t help but think that holding these back only hardens our heart. But giving them voice fills the air with the life of Christ, binding our hearts to one another.
So, what do you need to say? To whom do you need to say it? Now go ahead.
Do yourself a favor and listen to this song by John Mayer
Jeff Marian is lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN